WASHINGTON — As George W. Bush's first 100 days in office finish April 30, between 3 and 4,000 unborn babies are aborted in America every day. Pro-lifers worry that four years from now the same number of unborn babies will have died under the current administration as under a President Al Gore.
Unless they hold President Bush accountable to his campaign promises.
That is the message from Life Dynamics Inc., a Texas-based pro-life group that has launched a petition demanding that Bush appoint a blue ribbon panel of experts to find a way to “stop the abortion holocaust.”
“We, the undersigned, petition you to immediately create a Presidential Blue Ribbon Committee whose sole mission is to provide you with a pragmatic strategy (including an implementation plan) for promptly returning legal protection to every unborn child from the moment of conception,” reads the Life Dynamics petition to the president.
“This panel would include attorneys, judges, legal scholars, and public officials who are committed to the pro-life position, as well as selected individuals from the nation's pro-life leadership. We are also calling upon you to implement a National Abortion Education Program designed to encourage more Americans to embrace the pro-life position. This campaign should consist of radio, television and print advertising and be modeled after the government's efforts to eradicate illiteracy, smoking, drug use, violence and racism.”
Life Dynamics launched the two- part petition drive, calling it the “First Step Initiative,” on its monthly Lifetalk news video series in March and is urging people to collect signatures for it on its television talk show that airs on more than 200 stations across the country.
“We've got to get millions of these,” said Mark Crutcher, the group's president, who set a July 31 deadline for delivering the petition to the White House.
“George Bush is going to do no more than we insist that he does. He's a politician. Don't forget that,” said Crutcher. “[He] has got to realize that the pro-life movement is not just a bunch of lonely old people in the basement of a Baptist church.”
The White House didn't comment on the petition for this story, but USA Today quoted White House chief of staff Andy Card saying “I don't believe [Bush] feels that he'll be able to eliminate abortions.”
The paper said in its April 20 article that, “[a]sked specifically where abortion ranks among Bush's priorities, Card left it off the list.”
Instead, Card told the paper, “It's a high moral priority for the president, but his public policy priorities are education, tax reform and tax reduction, reforming Social Security, reforming the Medicare system and improving our national defense.”
Crutcher said he can understand how difficult it will be to tackle the controversial issue. “When [President Bush] was asked if he would support a constitutional ban on abortion, he said the American people are not ready for that yet,” he said. “Well, if that's true, your job, President Bush, is to get the American people ready for the plan.”
Civil War historian and retired professor Eugene Genovese has written about how President Abraham Lincoln changed American public opinion on slavery. Genovese said he finds a presidential blue ribbon committee on abortion “an intriguing idea.”
“Clearly [President Bush] can't do it in a ham-handed way … you'd have to have both sides,” said Genovese. “What such a commission could do, even while it is split, might [spark] debate,” particularly on university campuses where central pro-life arguments have been stifled for decades, he added.
The crux of the debate is not even at issue any more, said Genovese, adding that a blue ribbon panel on abortion would mean “serious anti-abortion arguments would have to be considered.”
A critical ingredient in the success of the North in the Civil War, added Genovese, was that Lincoln and abolitionists and churches did convince many people in both the North and the South that slavery was “sinful.” But he added, “It wasn't a change in public opinion, but a war that settled the matter.”
University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa history professor Forrest McDonald, author of The American Presidency: An Intellectual History , believes that President Bush has the power to change public opinion on abortion by maintaining “the moral high ground, even in the face of criticism, and not apologizing for it.”
His other means to change the law on abortion will come through the courts with the appointment of two, three or possibly even four Supreme Court judges over the course of the next four or eight years in the president's office.
Professor McDonald added that a Blue Ribbon panel on abortion is entirely within the president's power, however. It would face the “vocalness” of pro-abortionists and opposition from the pro-abortion media, but it might also raise discussion on the issue. “It might not help,” said McDonald, “but it wouldn't hurt.”
Life Dynamics’ Crutcher, however, is adamant that it is entirely within Bush's capability to appoint an entirely pro-life blue ribbon panel. If it were Bill Clinton's panel, after all, he wouldn't put any pro-life voices on it.
“If the country was in a financial crisis, George Bush would be appointing a blue ribbon committee of the top economic minds in the country to get him out of it,” said Crutcher. “If George Bush honestly believes that children are being butchered at a rate of 3 or 4,000 a day, then ‘Act like you believe it,’ that's what I would say to him.”
No one from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League returned calls to the Register to comment on the petition before deadline.
In a passage that echoes America's own Declaration of Independence, the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the right to life a fundamental right that nations must recognize.
“The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation ,” says the catechism. “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights … belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death” (No. 2273).
Life Dynamics has forced issues onto the government agenda before. Last year, Congress investigated the trade in fetal tissue from aborted babies after Life Dynamics paid an abortion clinic employee to gather hard-copy evidence of the lucrative market for baby parts in medical research and presented the documentation to government. ABC's program “20/20” also aired an episode last year confirming Life Dynamics’ evidence on fetal tissue.
“This is not about discussion,” said Crutcher, adding that abortion has been discussed for decades. “This panel is to provide an exit strategy.” The education campaign would be to change America's minds, said Crutcher; the panel to produce a plan to change the law to protect the unborn.
“The pro-life movement has Mickey Moused around on this long enough,” said Crutcher. “Forty million babies have already been killed. The salient issue is: Do we want to stop the killing more than they want to kill?”